Photowatt, a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, manufacturer of photovoltaic cells and modules established in France, is today announcing a project that would be based both on a new industrial model and on the deployment of its research and development (R&D) activities.
Regarding the new industrial model, Photowatt has begun talks with two of its longstanding industrial partners – Canadian Solar Inc., one of the world leaders in the manufacture of solar panels and ECM Greentech, a Grenoble-based company that has pioneered an innovative silicon crystallisation technology in partnership with the French National Solar Energy Institute (INES). These talks concern the creation of a new company specialised in low carbon production of advanced technology silicon ingots and wafers. The new company to be branded “Photowatt Crystal Advanced” would be 60%-owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles via Photowatt, 30%-owned by CSI and 10%-owned by ECM Greentech.
Photowatt’s production expertise combined with ECM Greentech’s technology and CSI’s global presence across the entire solar energy value chain, would give the new company a top-ranking competitive position, enabling it to seize opportunities in what is a rapidly-expanding solar energy market both in France and rest of the world. Its production capacity would be increased gradually to over 500 MWp p.a. from 50 MWp in capacity currently at Photowatt’s longstanding facility in Bourgoin Jallieu (Isère department) in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
The wafers, which have a low carbon footprint from a manufacturing perspective, would notably be marketed as photovoltaic modules in connection with competitive tenders launched by the French government to roll out around 2.5 GWp p.a. in photovoltaic projects under its multi-annual energy program (PPE).
Furthermore and as on December 11th 2017, the EDF Group -through its subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles- has also launched, the EDF Solar Power Plan which intends to develop and build 30 GWp of solar photovoltaic projects in France over the period of 2020 to 2035, in addition to its other renewable development activities in France and worldwide. Photowatt Crystal Advanced could also benefit from these developments in a competitive context.
In tandem with this joint venture, Photowatt, with its current facilities and its capacity to develop new processes, would focus on its research and development activities, rebranded “Photowatt Lab”, in liaison with the EDF Group’s R&D unit and other research centres such as INES or the Ile-de-France Photovoltaic Institute (IPVF). The aim is to foster the emergence of new technological solutions for photovoltaic cells and modules and to test them under pre-industrial conditions.
This plan dovetails with the EDF Group’s drive to promote the development of renewable energies under its CAP 2030 strategy.
Photowatt has now commenced the process of informing and consulting with its social partners about the new industrial and innovation development project in which every employee would be offered a position. The project is also subject to clearance by the relevant competition authorities.
Photowatt has been a pioneer in the solar industry for nearly 40 years. The company designs and produces photovoltaic modules based on crystalline silicon technology for various types of applications, from residential equipment to ground-based solar power plants. Photowatt is a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles.
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